This is a new author to me and listed at the Literary Escapism blog's New Author Challenge 2013.
by Hailey Edwards
Series: Araneae Nation, book 1
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Published by: Samhain Publishing, 2012
Synopsis: When her mother is murdered in her nest, Lourdes has one choice: she must marry before her own nest is seized. All she needs is a warrior fierce enough to protect her city and safeguard her clansmen. Such a male is Rhys the Cold.
Rhys’s clan is starving, but their taste for the Araneaean flesh makes them unwelcome dinner guests. Yet Lourdes threatens to melt the cold encasing his heart. When her sister is captured, they pursue their enemies, where she will discover if she’s worth her silk or if she’s spun the thread by which her clan will hang.
I think this is a very imaginative, unique book. It opens in the middle of a battle. We gradually learn that Lourdes' mother and father have been murdered. The Araneidae clan aren't fighters. They're a rich clan of artisans who spin silk. But Lourdes isn't willing to go down without a fight:
I was not a warrior born, but perhaps a warrior made.
...I was half Theridiidae, trained by one of their best strategists, my father....Araneidae spun silk ten times the strength of the strongest metals, and my fingertips tingled where my spinnerets loosed a singled silken thread.
I looped my thread behind his head, jerking down hard enough his chin caught my shoulder. While he was stunned, I whirled to his side out of Calum's reach, until I stood at his back and my makeshift garrotte sliced his throat.
Lourdes' father was from the Theridiidae clan and his clan have been the bodyguards for the Araneidaes. Now the Theridiidae have betrayed the Araneidae clan. Lourdes tries to save her clan and her remaining family by asking for aid from a clan more dangerous than the Theridiidae.The Mimetidae clan are known to eat their fellow Araneaeans, but they are fierce fighters and that's what Lourdes needs for her clan.
I'd sent a plea for aid to the one clan cruel enough to stave off the Theridiidae invasion and, I hoped merciful enough I hadn't signed my death warrant by exposing my soft underbelly to them.
The Mimetidae do come to the aid of the Araneidae. The maven of the Mimetidae clan, Isolde, was Lourdes' mother's dearest friend, but she demands a price from Lourdes. The Mimetidae clan is one of the poorest clans and making an alliance with the Araneidae is a huge benefit to the Mimetidae. Isolde demands their warriors be outfitted in Araneidae armor spun from Araneidae silk and for Lourdes to wed a Mimetidae. Lourdes is horrified by this, but Isolde promises Lourdes her dearest wish--revenge on her parents' killers. Rhys the Cold is the youngest son of the Mimetidae clan and Isolde's son. He's Isolde's choice for Lourdes. Lourdes is drawn to him, but doesn't trust him especially since he's part of the Mimetidae clan.
Gods, I hoped the Mimetidae weren't hungry.
Lourdes discovers her sister is missing after the battle. Was she kidnapped or was she involved in the murder of their parents? Either way Lourdes is determined to find her and get her back. Lourdes and Rhys track her sister and her companions (kidnappers?). Following the trail they travel south and not only encounter some of the traitors, but also a mysterious plague which is ravaging the south. I get the feeling this plague will appear in future volumes of the series.
My thoughts: The culture of the Araneae Nation is fascinating. The world building is good and is revealed gradually. I don't like spiders at all, but Ms. Edwards has created a culture based on spiders' characteristics...some have poison to kill their prey, a bite used in lovemaking or spin silk from their fingers. Even though I don't like spiders at all I thought using spiders' characteristics was brilliant.
One quibble I have with this book is the names of the clans...very hard to keep straight and pronounce even in my head. Thank goodness I wasn't reading out loud...lol! The worst names to keep straight were the Araneidae clan and the Araneaeans which is the name for all the clans in this world. That was confusing! Writing this review with all these names was also a challenge! Ms. Edwards has a pronunciation guide on her website. I guess I understand why she used all these words, but when a pronunciation guide is needed maybe you should use easier parts of these words!
The book is a good start to this new series. I also read a short story in the series--A Cast of Shadows. I enjoyed it, but it wasn't quite long enough. I would have enjoyed more time with the characters in that story.
The second book in the series--A Feast of Souls--is already out as an e-book, but I haven't read it yet. It has been buried in my e-reader so I will have to dig it out before the third e-book arrives--A Time of Dying--at the end of July.